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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The High King of Montival by S. M. Stirling

Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History

Setting: A post apocalyptic North America, 25 years after the "Change"

This novel is the tenth in Stirling's Change series.

In Stirling's alternate universe, March 17, 1998 is the day the world changed.  A mysterious event centered around Nantucket Island transported the island into the past.  The story of how the Nantucket survivors adapted form the first three novels of the Change series.

With the next three novels in the series, Stirling tells the tale of present day Earth after the event.  There has been a fundamental change in the laws of the universe. Electricity, gasoline engines, steam engines and gunpowder no longer work.  Earth has returned to a pre-Industrial Revolution state.  These three novels are mostly centered around Portland, Oregon.  They describe how the people survive and reorganize themselves in this post apocalyptic world.

In the next four novels, the world has been invaded by a force of evil.  The terrible Prophet, and his evil minions, the Cutters, are planning to take over the world.  Rudi Mackenzie has been visited by spiritual Lady.  She has given him the task to travel to Nantucket and retrieve a magic sword.  Rudi then must use The Sword of the Lady to defeat the Prophet and his followers.

This novel picks up the action after Rudi has received the sword.  He must return to Oregon with the sword.  Along the way Rudi must organize his followers and assemble an army to defeat the Cutters.  Rudi must also learn to control the magic of the sword so that he can rid the world of this evil threat.  The plot follows Rudi and his followers.  There are descriptions of destroyed cities and wild uncivilized people.   There are desperate battles using swords, spears and shields.  Along the way back to Oregon, Rudi becomes Artos, the High King of Montival. 

The warriors that Rudi collects are an eclectic group of knights, cowboys, Vikings, Islamic pirates and Celtic archers.  The religious beliefs of the people play an important part in the plot of the story.  There are Christians, both  Catholics and Protestants.  There are believers in the old Norse religion of Odin and Thor.  And there are those who practice the Wiccan beliefs.

An interesting part of the plot is that some of the characters have modeled thamselves after the Rangers in
J. R. R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  In fact they refer to Tolkein's writings as the "Histories".  These are mostly characters who were born just before, or after, the Change.

I enjoyed reading this book.  By itself, the book is fair.  However, the main point of the book is to set up the plot for the final decisive battle of good versus evil.

Normally, I am not a fan of fantasy stories that have too much magic in them.  In this book, the bad guy has a magical power, and the good guy has a magical power.  The rest of the characters and plot are pretty realistic with people, animals, and objects acting realistically.

If you are interested in reading this series, I would suggest that you begin with Dies the Fire which is the first book in the series.

The High King of Montival

Dies the Fire

Island in the Sea of Time - The first Change series novel.

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